What’s Your 80-20? (The Pareto Principal)

What’s Your 80-20?

(The Pareto Principal)

Have you ever heard of the Pareto principle or 80/20 rule? It usually looks something like this:

  • 20% of employees do 80% of the work
  • 20% of the customers generate 80% of the business
  • 20% of x, creates 80% of y

As such, 20% of the tasks that we do on any given day generate 80% of our results. These are our High Payoff Activities (HPA’s). These are not always the most fun activities, and they aren’t always the ones we would choose to do, but they do generate results. For some it is making or taking phone calls, for others it is sales, for some it might be paperwork. These activities may shift and change over time, but in essence, they are the tasks and responsibilities of your job that bring you the greatest return for time invested. Focused planning and prioritizing your HPA’s will provide huge dividends. Try this, create a list of the top 5 or 6 things you think are your HPA’s.

Ask your supervisor or manager to jot down what they perceive to be your top 5 or 6 HPA’s. What then? You guessed it, compare lists. One of two things will happen:

  1. You will either validate that you are investing the right energy in the right things, or
  2. You will identify that your perceptions are different. Either provides an opportunity to clarify expectations and goals.

This works for people that you supervise as well. This can work for kids and significant others too!

Are your HPA’s tasks and responsibilities that let you focus on your strengths? If not, what can you do to spend more time focused on the things you enjoy? No one likes doing things they are bad at (ok, I still sing in the shower), but for the most part, we enjoy tasks that capitalize on our strengths. If your HPA’s don’t align with your strengths, what are one or two things you could do to refocus your time and energy? What can you do every day to focus on your HPA’s?


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